Two male juvenile Komodo dragons direct from Prague are now calling Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay home, joining the attraction’s diverse family of reptiles.
The two latest additions to Shark Reef join a fellow adult male Komodo that was first displayed in 2008. The trio will rotate on exhibit individually as they may prove deadly to one another if kept in the same exhibit.
Shark Reef Aquarium is one of only seven locations selected to care for 10 dragons recently captive-hatched at the Praha Zoological Garden in the Czech Republic. Native to Indonesia with less than 5,000 Komodo dragons surviving in the wild today, these reptiles are part of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). As an accredited member of AZA, Shark Reef has pledged to cooperatively manage, conserve and protect this endangered species.
“We are honored to house and care for these Komodo dragons,” said Adrienne Rowland, director of Shark Reef Aquarium. “It’s rare to have Komodo dragons with bloodlines completely unrelated to dragons hatched in North America. These juvenile males will be high priority for future breeding attempts for the Komodo SSP and will be critical in producing future generations of healthy and genetically diverse populations of Komodo dragons.”
The world’s heaviest and largest lizards, Komodo dragons can weigh up to 300 pounds and grow up to 10 feet in length. With just one bite, virulent saliva containing about 50 strains of bacteria infects their prey’s blood, typically killing them in a week. This venomous saliva is also being researched for use in anti-coagulation and antibacterial medications.
The first and only animal care facility to be accredited by the AZA in Nevada, Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium features more than 2,000 divinely dangerous animals. Open daily from10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, regular ticket prices at Shark Reef Aquarium are $18 for adults and $12 for children ages five through 12; children four and under are free. Nevada residents with a valid ID receive a discount on admission – $15 for adults and $10 for children five and older. For more information, visit mandalaybay.com, sharkreef.com, call (702) 632-4555 or follow Shark Reef on Facebook and Twitter.